An Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist has been honored with a statewide community service award for his efforts in teaching science to young people. Stephen Jackson, Ph.D., received the Trailblazer Award during the 21st annual Black Heritage Celebration last month.
Jackson, an associate research scientist in OMRF’s molecular immunogenetics research program, was one of three honored during the awards program held at the Omniplex.
For the last two summers, Jackson has mentored more than a dozen high school students in his laboratory, including two of OMRF’s Sir Alexander Fleming Scholars. Jackson also trained students from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and Edmond schools through a scientific immersion program he designed called Building Young Scientists, which focused on cancer and autoimmune studies.
“Science is propelled by innovative thought and creative thinking, and the youth are rich in these two qualities,” Jackson said. “I learn just as much from them as they learn from me. They bring the real life aspect to the science we do.”
Jackson received a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and joined OMRF in 2002 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Outside of the lab, Jackson serves as an instructor of dance and theater, and the Trailblazer Award also recognized his community outreach work in these disciplines.
Also honored during the program were Col. Jerry N. Cason, commander of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and Diane McDaniel, supervisor of the Deborah Rothe Group Home for Girls.
Chartered in 1946, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is one of the nation’s oldest, most respected biomedical research institutes. Dedicated to understanding and curing human disease, the nonprofit institute focuses on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. It is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.